Campus protesters win concessions over £90m Craighouse development

A CONSORTIUM behind one of the most controversial planning developments in Edinburgh in recent years has scaled back its plans in the wake of a public outcry.

Thursday, 15th November 2012, 7:42 am

• Consortium behind Craighouse development scales back plans after protests

• Proposed homes on site to be reduced by around a quarter

The number of homes proposed for the grounds of Edinburgh Napier University’s campus in Craighouse has been reduced by almost a quarter to try to appease campaigners.

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And a large swathe of open space previously earmarked for a four-storey block of flats will be protected from development.

However, the consortium – which involves the university and former developers behind the stalled Caltongate project in the city centre – may face renewed opposition as 89 new-build homes are still earmarked for the grounds, which are currently open to the public.

The Craighouse Partnership’s scheme is thought to be worth at least £90 million. Several large blocks of flats are planned to be created throughout the site, which has seven A-listed buildings dating back to the 16th century and was sold off by the university in March of last year for around £10 million. Staff will finally move out in the spring.

The existing buildings on the site are to house 64 new homes – down from 90 originally earmarked – while the number of new-build homes has been reduced from 116 in the most recent set of proposals published back in March.

As well as pledging to maintain the bulk of the open space within the campus as a community park, the developers have agreed to allow a nearby woodland area, which they also own, to be taken over by local residents. More than 250 new trees will also be planted around the 51-acre site.

William Gray Muir, managing director of Sundial Properties, said 200 homes had been originally envisaged for the site, when initial plans were published in September 2011.

He said all the new-build elements of the scheme had been completely redesigned in consultation with local bodies and campaigners. Mr Gray Muir, who claimed just 3.5 per cent of the grounds will be built on, said: “I’m confident there will be support for these proposals, which we’ve spent a huge amount of time consulting on over since we bought the site.”

Dame Joan Stringer, the university’s principal, said: “I know that change at Craighouse has been a difficult issue for many and there have been strong views expressed about the future of this great location. As custodians we are committed to ensuring that the best possible plans for Craighouse are in place for when we leave and our stewardship comes to an ends.”